Sun Devils Look To Get Back On Winning Track With No. 1 Stanford Visiting Tempe For Three Games
March 28, 2001
ASU Baseball Information
What's On Tap:The No. 4/6 Sun Devil baseball team return home after a six-game stretch that saw ASU start the Pac-10 season with a 3-3 record. After going 2-1 at Cal in Berkeley two weekends ago. ASU stumbled home with two losses in Corvallis, Ore., to the Oregon State Beavers. Not to worry though, because the last time ASU opened a Pac-10 season 3-3 was in 1998 when they were the eventual national champion runner-ups at the College World Series. With an overall 20-7-1 record in 2001, the Sun Devils are set to host No. 1 Stanford (22-5) to a three game series at Packard Stadium. The Cardinal are ranked No. 1 in two polls and checked in at No. 2 in one other poll. They have won 20 of their last 22 games and a season-hgih eight in a row after disposing of St. Mary's 8-3 Tuesday night. With three games against Stanford this weekend, the tough ASU schedule only gets tougher with rival USC on tap the following week. ASU will travel to Los Angels to take on the Trojans for three games at Dedeaux Field. The Sun Devils are led by senior catcher Casey Myers, who is third in the Pac-10 with a .412 batting average. The Devil bats have been cold as of later though, combining to hit only .258 over the last five games and .260 in the three games at Oregon State. The Devils are also in the midst of a 'power outage,' connecting on their last home run some 216 at-bats ago. Sophomore shortstop Dennis Wyrick has returned to the lineup to add leadership and has faired well at the plate with seven hits in his last 15 at-bats (.467). The Stanford-Arizona State series matches the top hitting team in the Pac-10 (ASU) vs. the top pitching team in the league in Stanford.
The All-Time Series:The Sun Devils hold a small edge in the all-time series, 74-72. ASU is 10-20 overall and 5-10 at Packard Stadium vs. the Cardinal during the Pat Murphy era dating back to 1995. The Sun Devils took two of three last year in Tempe and since the Pac-10 joined the North and South in 1999, ASU is 2-4. After dropping the series opener last year, ASU rallied to take two in a row en route to a share of the Pac-10 Championship. ASU outscored the Cardinal 22-17 in the series.
This Weekend It Is Pitching Vs. Hitting At Its Finest:The three-game series with the Stanford Cardinal matches the Pac-10's top pitching staff vs. the Sun Devils who are not only the leading hitting team in the Pac-10 this year, but one of the nation's most dominating offensive powers in recent years. The Cardinal comes into this weekend's games with a combined team ERA of 2.77. The Sun Devils lead the Pac-10 with a .351 batting average. The power vs. power match-up is sure to be one of the premier series' of the weekend in college baseball. The Cardinal top three on the mound Jeremy Guthrie (6-0, 1.12), Tim Cunningham (4-0, 2.60) and Jeff Bruksch (5-0, 2.75) is one of the best starting rotations in the nation. While the ASU offense counters with every starter hitting over .300 and four batters hitting above .400. Casey Myers, who was the 2000 Pac-10 Player of the Year, is leading ASU with a .412 batting average.
Sun Devils Scoring Streak Longest Active In NCAA At 345 Games:The Arizona State baseball program has scored in a Pac-10 record 345 straight games, not having been shutout since a 9-0 setback to USC on April 7, 1995. The streak is currently the longest in NCAA Division I and the second longest in NCAA history. ASU was neck-in-neck with Wichita State who was not shutout in 332 games, but when the Shockers fell 1-0 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette ASU took over the national lead. Coastal Carolina holds the record at 349 games set from 1983-1989. If ASU were to break the record of 349 games without being shutout, they would have to score at least one run in the next four games, with the record-breaker possibly coming against nationally ranked USC on April 7 in Los Angeles. That's right, the record breaker (Game 350) could come exactly five years after the last time ASU was shutout. During the streak ASU has scored one run in only five games, ironically last coming in a 1-0 win last year vs. Oregon State.
Around The Horn With ASU Baseball:With the 1-2 record in Corvallis, ASU has now lost consecutive games for only the second time this season... The Sun Devils stand at 3-3 in Pac-10 play, the same mark ASU started at when the Sun Devils last advanced to the College World Series in 1998... the series win for the Beavers was the first over ASU by an OSU team since the late 1960's... in the series vs. Oregon State the Sun Devils hit only .260 with just two extra base hits and no home runs... the team has not hit a home run in 216 official at-bats, dating back to the Sunday game of the South Florida series when Casey Myers hit his fourth home run of the year in the fourth inning... even with the recent 'power outage' the Sun Devils lead the Pac-10 by a wide margin with a .351 team batting average... OSU's .323 team batting average is the closest mark in second place... ASU also leads the Pac-10 in runs scored (272), doubles (68), walks (155), hit by pitches (47), on base percentage (.453) and RBI (243)... they are last with only 13 home runs... four Sun Devils (Myers, Allen, Wyrick, West) are among the top 10 in batting in the conference... Myers leads the league with 43 RBI and with 249 in his career is only one away from second place in the ASU record books... he is also within 34 of tying the school and Pac-10 record of 283 set by former Sun Devil Andrew Beinbrink... Myers recently broke out of an 0-for-12 slump with three hits in his last seven at-bats... he is now hitting .412 on the year and .385 for his career... it was the first time since the start of the 1999 season that Myers had gone three consecutive games without a hit... freshman LF/DH Rod Allen recently had his 17-game hitting streak come to a halt when he went 0-for-4 vs. OSU (3/24)... Allen hit .450 with 27 hits during his streak... junior Chris Duffy is currently the hottest Sun Devil at the plate, riding an 18-game hitting streak in which he is hitting .380 (27x71) with 16 RBI and three doubles... he has only one hit in each of the last three games during the Beavers to help extend that streak, two of which were perfectly executed drag bunts down the first base line... Duffy and junior outfielder Mel Stocker are both switch hitters, but have been batting left-handed almost full-time... junior infielder Brooks Conrad has been steady all year for ASU, tabbing at least one hit in 24 of his 27 games played... he is hitting .333 on the year with eight multi-hit games... Myers leads the team with 19 multi-hit games and 14 multi-RBI games.
The National Rankings:For the 24th consecutive week the Arizona State baseball program saw its name among the top 12 college baseball programs in the nation. Checking in with a ranking as high as No. 4, ASU will be taking on No. 1 this weekend when Stanford comes to town. When the weekly college baseball polls came out Monday, the Sun Devil had yet to play the final game of the Oregon State series in which they dropped 12-2. The Sun Devils still enter this weekend's action with Stanford ranked fourth in the Baseball Weekly/ESPN Coaches Poll and Collegiate Baseball News paper Top 30. ASU is listed sixth by Baseball America. The Stanford Cardinal is one of the hottest team's in the nation with a 22-5 record and has won eight in a row and 20 of its last 22. The Cardinal are ranked No. 1 by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, while they are tabbed second by the Coaches poll. Rice maintained the top spot ahead of Stanford in the Baseball Weekly Poll. The Sun Devils have arguably one of the top schedules in the nation, playing games against LSU, Tennessee, USC, Stanford and Cal State Fullerton who are all currently ranked. A tough and balanced Pac-10 has every team, save Washington State, ranked or at least receiving votes in the last two weeks. The Cougars are hot as well, though, taking two of three from Cal last weekend to open the Tim Mooney era in Pac-10 play.
Switzer vs. Guthrie, Two of Nation's Best Duel in the Desert Friday:Friday's starting pitchers, Jon Switzer and Jeremy Guthrie, is a match-up of two of the nation's best pitchers. Guthrie enters the weekend with a perfect 6-0 record and a stellar 1.12 ERA. He has been named the Pac-10 pitcher of the week twice this year and has one complete game to his credit. After four straight no-decisions, Sun Devil ace Jon Switzer returned to his dominating form vs. Oregon State. The junior LHP is now 4-0 after his complete-game victory and has racked up 73 strikeouts in 52.2 innings.
More Sun Devil Tidbits:The Sun Devils are hitting .351 on the year, but have struggled so far in Pac-10 play with a .271 batting average... ASU has not hit a home run in Pac-10 play this year... on the mound Drew Friedberg has been amazing out of the bullpen with a near perfect 0.74 ERA on the year... the senior LHP has struck out 30 in 24.1 innings and has yet to allow an earned run in Pac-10 play... without the home run as a threat, ASU has played the little ball very well... the team has stolen 73 bases, almost already equaling the 2000 total of 92... Stocker leads the team with 17 stolen bases, including his last being an outright steal of home vs. Oregon State (3/24)... Jon Switzer ended his streak of four consecutive no-decisions with his first complete game of the year last Saturday... Switzer is now 4-0 on the year with 73 strikeouts in 52.2 innings... the Sun Devils will be facing one of the nation's best pitching staffs this weekend when No. 1 Stanford comes to town... the Cardinal have an impressive team ERA of 2.77... the weekend match-up with feature the league's best hitting team (ASU) vs. the league's best pitching team (Stanford)... the No. 1 Cardinal will be the second time this season a top 5 opponent comes to Packard Stadium... LSU escaped with a 2-0-1 record in early March... Casey Myers is a .479 hitter when batting third in the ASU lineup, but only a .364 hitter when batting cleanup... five of ASU's seven loses have come when Myers bats cleanup (17 games)... the Sun Devils have been vulnerable when a LHP starts the game for the opponent... ASU is 3-6-1 against lefty starters... Stanford is scheduled to start to righties and one lefty... five of ASU's seven losses have come when the starter goes less than five innings... the Sun Devils are within four games of thing the all-time NCAA record of not having been shutout in 345 consecutive games... the national record is 349 held by Coastal Carolina.
Chris Duffy Makes An Immediate Impact With 18-Game Hitting Streak:Junior Chris Duffy started the season with some bad news by spraining his right MCL before the Alumni game. After a month of intense rehab, the highly touted JC transfer from South Mountain CC saw his first action of his ASU career in the Creighton series and faired well since racking up a team-high 18-game hitting streak. The speedster had recorded a hit in every game he has played in at ASU, save a 0-for-1 pinch-hitting appearance vs. New Mexico State. Duffy extended his hitting streak with one hit in each of the three games vs. Oregon State, two of which were perfectly executed drag bunts. During the streak, Duffy is hitting .380 (27x71) with 19 runs scored, 16 RBI, three doubles and a triple. Duffy, who was the nation's top base stealer at the JC level last year with 59, is described as a five-tool player and will play center field for ASU. Duffy is rated as one of the top 100 prospects in the nation by Baseball America (62) and earned the distinction of having the best outfield arm and best speed in the Pac-10's preseason outlook by Baseball America. Duffy hit .409 at South Mountain last year and was a 43rd round draft choice of the Boston Red Sox. Duffy also has three outfield assists, cutting down runners at home plate each time, and has recorded at least one hit in each of his 18 starts. The junior, who is listed as a switch hitter, is also experimenting to become a full-time left-handed hitter. In his first game batting all lefty vs. Cal (3/18), Duffy was 2-for-5. Duffy is hitting .375 on the year with nine multi-hit games.
Offensive Powerhouse ASU Tops In Scoring in NCAA Last Two Years:Arizona State has led the NCAA in scoring each of the last two years, averaging 11.32 runs per game in 1999 and 10.97 runs per game last year. ASU also led the nation in batting average with a team total of .356 in 1999. The Sun Devils .346 average in 2000 fell just percentage points shy of matching that feat a second year in a row, trailing Stony Brook by one point. ASU out-hit Stony Brook 738-500. During Pat Murphy's seven seasons in Tempe, the Sun Devils have been a scoring machine with 3,642 runs, averaging 9.51 runs per game. 2001 has been no different for ASU, leading the Pac-10 by scoring 9.71 runs per game and hitting .351 as a team.
Media Exposure:All three of the ASU-Stanford games can be heard over the airwaves on XTRA 910 AM or on the Internet at www.thesundevils.com. Friday and Sunday's games will air live on XTRA 910 from Packard Stadium, while Saturday's game will only be able to be heard over the internet due to Final Four coverage. The voice of Arizona State Sun Devil athletics, Tim Healey, will bring you the play-by-play with longtime Arizona sportswriter Bob Eger providing the color analysis. All three games can also be viewed over the internet with Live Stats at ASU's official athletic site, www.thesundevils.com. Friday's game will be televised live in the Phoenix area on Cox Cable 9 with George Allen and Doug Gerlach doing the play-by-play.
Sun Devils Endure 'Power Outage' at the Plate:While much of the state of California has endured a serious shortage of power, it seems as if the Arizona State baseball team is also suffering through their own 'power outage.' The Sun Devil offense has collectively gone 216 combined at-bats, dating back to the fourth inning of the Sunday South Florida game (3/11) since an ASU player has last hit a home run. Casey Myers was the last Sun Devil to knock a ball out of the park when he connected on his fourth of the year. ASU is last in the Pac-10 with only 10 home runs on the year. Regardless, ASU still leads the Pac-10 in hitting at .351and has the second best slugging percentage at .486. In the three-game series at Oregon State, the Sun Devils were hampered by cold and damp weather conditions, tabbing only two extra bases and scored only three runs over the last two games of the series. ASU hit only .260 in the series with the Beavers and were out-hit 31-25.
Blame It On The Rain:Rain in Arizona, yeah, that's right, and it has put a damper on the 2001 baseball season so far. Record amounts of rain in the Southwest have forced three cancellations at Packard Stadium, with two more being cancelled when ASU traveled to Fullerton to play the Titans. ASU has already made up one game with St. Mary's (6-4, L) and have a make-up game with Cal State Fullerton scheduled for April 9. The Sun Devils have also added a game with Nevada in Reno on May 16 at 3 p.m. ASU switched the game with New Mexico State from April 19 to April 17 so they can play Oral Roberts in Tulsa after the Oklahoma game. The Sun Devils will play three games in three different cities during that stretch of games with New Mexico State, Oklahoma and Oral Roberts. ASU was lucky to get all three games in at Oregon State. A 41-minute rain delay marred Saturday's game, and both the Sunday and Monday games were delayed at the start because of rainy conditions.
How ASU Faired vs. the Stanford Cardinal in 2000:For only the second time during the Pat Murphy era, the Sun Devils handed the Stanford Cardinal a series win last year in Tempe. Taking two of three from Stanford, ASU used solid relief pitching and timely hitting to get past the Cardinal. Franco Pezely and Eric Doble each gained wins in the series, while Dennis Wyrick (.429) and Jeff Phelps (.300) had good games at the plate. ASU pitchers held the Cardinal hitters to a .238 batting average in the series.
Memorable Moments in 2001:*Down 3-2 in the top of the seventh, pinch-hitter Nick Walsh delivers a two-out, two-run single through the left side of the infield to help lift the Sun Devils to a 5-3 win over then No. 18 Cal State Fullerton (2/23)
*Jon Switzer strikes out 13 of the 16 batters he faces vs. Southern Utah en route to a 10-2 win over the Thunderbirds. He struck out eight consecutive in that game to rank second in the ASU record books and as a team ASU fanned 22 SUU batters to also rank second in the record books. (2/2)*Mel Stocker steals home and makes great diving catch in right field vs. Oregon State (3/24)
*Mike Lopez goes 4-for-5 with three doubles and seven RBI in a 14-4 win over Creighton (2/18)
*Down 2-1 in the top of the ninth, Walsh comes through again with another two-out, two-run single to help lead ASU to a 4-2 come-from-behind win at Cal. Walsh grew up near Oakland (3/17).
* In possibly the weirdest and best play of 2001, second baseman Brooks Conrad slipped on his way to catch a pop fly, but on his way to the turf cleverly kicked the ball up into the air while on his back where right fielder Jonah Martin then snagged the ball to record the third out of the inning. With ASU leading 2-0 at the time, the hit would have tied the game scoring two runs for OSU (3/26).
Injury Bug Bites the Sun Devils:Several Sun Devils are hampered by injuries. Preseason All-American closer Eric Doble has not pitched since the LSU series and looks to be out at least two more weeks with a torn tendon in his right middle finger. Senior relief pitcher/catcher Ty Johnson is also out with a hand injury. First baseman Jeff Phelps has been sidelined with a torn hamstring throughout the season, but has played as of late. He tweaked the injury at Oregon State, but is likely to play vs. the Cardinal. Junior Mel Stocker is nursing a badly bruised right elbow after being hit by a pitch Monday vs. the Beavers. He is should be able to play this weekend.
The Espo Report:Possibly the best news of the season for the Sun Devils is the fact the RHP Mike Esposito (Las Vegas) is back in the starting rotation. A reliever on strict pitch counts through much of the early season, Esposito made his return as a starter vs. LSU. Leaving the game with a lead against the Tigers, Esposito made good in his second start of the year, picking up the win against South Florida with 3.1 solid innings. Only 11 months from successful Tommy John surgery, Esposito turned in possibly ASU's most impressive pitching performance of the season. Despite picking up the no-decision, the hard-throwing right-hander allowed only four hits and two runs in seven innings against California. He struck out six and did not walk a better in his start. He backed that with another good outing at Oregon State, allowing only two hits in 4.1 innings, but recorded his first career loss. Esposito has thrown 21.2 innings for ASU, striking out 22 and posting an ERA of 4.57. Esposito was a fifth-round draft pick by the Cincinnati Reds in 1999 and was ASU's opening day starter in 2000 before going down with the injury. He is slated to start Saturday vs. Stanford.
The Wild, Wild West, Jeremy West:Jeremy West and the Stock Market have a lot in common. At one point it is up, the other it is going down. With a batting average as high as .452 batting average two weeks ago, West had a rough time at the plate in his Pac-10 debut going 1-for-11 in the Cal series. West was coming off a torrid weekend at the plate the week before in which he went 8-for-12 in the South Florida series. The product of Silverado High School in Las Vegas, Nev., West has recorded a hit in 20 of 27 games this year and is hitting an even .400 (32x80). West also leads the team with five home runs. The sweet-swinging West was hot prior to the Cal series, hitting .667 (10x15) in the four games prior to visiting Berkeley with two doubles, two triples and two home runs. In the South Florida series West was 8-for-12, including a career high four hits in the series opener. West was 4-for-5 with two RBI that night, falling just a double short of the elusive cycle.
Danger...Rod Allen On Deck:One of the hottest hitters in the Sun Devil lineup as of late has been freshman designated hitter Rod Allen. The product of Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Allen had a 17-game hitting steak snapped last Friday. Allen was 27-for-60 during that stretch of games and is now hitting .409 with seven doubles and two home runs. His two-run blast vs. Creighton (2/17) cleared both fences in left field and landed on Rio Salado Drive. He added a two-run homer vs. South Florida. The son of former major leaguer Rod Allen, Sr., who is also a broadcaster for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Allen hit .419 his senior year at Desert Vista while leading them to a state championship. With seven multi-hit games, Allen has started 15 games with 12 coming at designated hitter and three in left field.
Pat Murphy at ASU:Arizona's State has had only three coaches in its illustrious history. The latest to join the legacy is Pat Murphy who has enjoyed great success since arriving in Tempe six years ago in 1995. Murphy has guided ASU to a 252-130-1 (.659) and posted an impressive 93-80 record in the tough Pac-10. ASU has advanced to postseason play in three of the six years under Murphy, including a 2nd place finish at the College World Series in 1998. With his 252 wins at ASU, Murphy has the third best winning percentage of Pac-10 coaches. Murphy is seven wins shy of 100 career Pac-10 victories. Of all active Division I coaches, Murphy entered 2001 ranked 14th with a career .675 winning percentage.
The Ultimate Team Player, Dennis Wyrick:Sophomore shortstop Dennis Wyrick has had his ups and downs in 2001 so far, riding a hot bat at the plate and suffering through some rough patches in the field. Lost in a numbers game with ASU trying to find playing time for freshman Steve Garrabrants, Wyrick has only made four starts since the LSU series. Wyrick has even started to make the transition to catcher, a possible starting position for him in 2002. Regardless, a team leader on the field, Wyrick moved back to shortstop last weekend and faired well. The sophomore led ASU with a .500 batting average (6x12) over the weekend with a double and a RBI. For the year the Azusa, Calif., native is hitting .408 with 29 hits and four doubles.
As Cool As Friedberg:Senior LHP Drew Friedberg has quietly gotten the job done out of the bullpen. Friedberg has been stellar out of the bullpen with a 0.74 ERA in 24.1 innings on the mound. Allowing only 14 hits and two earned runs this year, Friedberg has struck out 30 in his 10 relief outings. Friedberg turned in a stellar performance vs. South Florida, coming out of the bullpen in relief of starter Jon Switzer. He inherited a bases loaded, no-out situation and got out of the jam. He allowed only one hit and did not allow a run to score vs. the Bulls to pick up his second win of the season. He also has a solid outing vs. Cal State Fullerton (2/23), coming out of the bullpen to throw three shutout innings in picking up his first win in over a year. His latest impressive outing came vs. Cal (3/16) in which he threw 2.0 shutout innings to pick up the win and move to 3-0 on the season. Friedberg combined for four shutout innings in the Cal series to run his scoreless innings streak to 9.0 innings. The Middleton, Wisc., native has bounced between being a starter and reliever in his four-year ASU career, peaking when he threw a complete-game one hitter vs. Hawaii-Hilo to open his 1999 season. As a junior he was 1-0 with a respectable 4.00 ERA in 27.0 innings. He has been drafted twice in his career, most recently last year by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 29th round.
Bobby Winkles Field:The Baseball Field at Packard Stadium was officially named Bobby Winkles Field last Saturday as part of a special weekend honoring ASU's first varsity baseball coach. Winkles Field was officially named during a special ceremony before Saturday's game with LSU. Around 90 of Winkles former players joined a sellout crowd at Packard Stadium to honor Winkles and his tremendous strides to put ASU baseball on the map. Winkles was ASU's first varsity coach, compiling an impeccable 524-173 record during his 13-year career at ASU. He guided the Sun Devils to three national championships (1965, 67,69) and tutored future major league greats Rick Monday, Reggie Jackson and Sal Bando. ASU is 4-1-1 on the newly named Bobby Winkles Field.
Casey At Bat:One of the best hitters in college baseball, Casey Myers, has not disappointed in living up to that title this year. Despite a recent slump, Myers is hitting at a .412 clip (47x114) with eight doubles, four home runs and 43 RBI. The senior catcher has hits in 21 of ASU's 28 games this year, 19 of which have been multi-hit games. Myers already has 43 RBI on the year to lead the Pac-10 this year and is quickly approaching the school and Pac-10 career record. With 249 in his four-year career, he is just 35 short of breaking both records set by former Sun Devil Andrew Beinbrink. Dating back to the start of 2000, Myers is hitting .412 (145x352) with 140 RBI and 22 home runs in 87 combined games. Myers is quickly reminding players why he is one of the best players in all of college baseball. A legitimate candidate for Player of the Year honors. Myers, who hit .412 last year and was a finalist for the National Player of the Year award, is now within one of second place in the ASU record books for career RBI. Behind the plate Myers has been instrumental in the success of the ASU pitching staff, calling all the pitches. He is also just 14 short of second place in the Pac-10 books (John Gall, Stanford). Myers needs 52 more RBI to rank among the top seven run-producers in college baseball history, a list that includes Robin Ventura, Joe Carter and Pete Incaviglia. Defensively, the 2000 Collegiate Baseball Defensive Player of the Year has also been solid, carrying a .996 fielding percentage into this weekend's action.